Hemophobia is the extreme and irrational fear of blood.Similar reactions can also occur with trypanophobia and traumatophobia. For this reason, these phobias are categorized as "blood-injection-injury phobia" by the DSM-IV. Some early texts refer to this category as "blood-injury-illness phobia."
Hemophobia is often related to other phobias. Trypanophobia, or fear of medical needles, is sometimes associated with hemophobia. Some people with a fear of blood also have other medical phobias, such as fears of doctors and dentists. The field of medicine is popularly associated with gruesome images of spilled blood, particularly in television and movies, which may help to perpetuate such phobias. Hemophobia may also be associated with health phobias including hypochondriasis and nosophobia. Bleeding is an indication that something is wrong with the body, and the sight of one’s own blood can be enough to trigger health anxiety. In those who suffer from mysophobia, or fear of germs, the sight of someone else’s blood can trigger fears of catching a disease. In some cases, the fear of blood may be related to the fear of death. Hemophobia may be caused by a previous negative experience with blood. Those who have been through a traumatic injury or illness that caused a major loss of blood may be at increased risk. However, hemophobia may be inherited or even be rooted in evolutionary factors.
Hemophobia can cause a wide range of difficulties that may prove life-limiting or even dangerous. If you are afraid of blood, you may be reluctant to seek medical treatment. You might postpone or avoid annual physicals and needed medical tests. You may refuse surgery or dental treatments. Parents with hemophobia may find it difficult or impossible to bandage their children’s wounds. You might pass these tasks off to your spouse whenever possible. You may also overreact to minor injuries in your children as well as yourself, frequenting emergency rooms or walk-in clinics when home treatment would suffice. A fear of blood may also cause you to limit activities that carry a risk of injury. You might be unable to participate in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping or running. You may avoid sports, carnival rides and other activities that you perceive as dangerous. Over time, such avoidant behaviors can lead to isolation. You might develop social phobia or, in extreme cases, agoraphobia. Your relationships might suffer and, over time, you might find it difficult to participate in even the normal activities of daily living. Feeling depressed is not unusual.
Hemophobia responds very well to many treatment methods. One of the most common is cognitive-behavioral therapy. You will learn to replace your fearful self-talk with healthier responses to the sight of blood. You will also learn new behaviors and coping strategies. If your phobia is severe, medications can help control the anxiety, allowing you to focus on treatment strategies. Other forms of talk therapy, hypnosis, and even alternative treatments may also be helpful. A skilled therapist can guide you through the process of recovery, which can be difficult or impossible on your own. With help, though, there is no reason for hemophobia to control your life.